In June 2017, I started to develop some very weird symptoms which I blamed entirely on my hormones changing as I had just started the weaning process with Teagan. These symptoms included terrible headaches, extreme fatigue, a feeling of fluid in my ears that resulted in earaches, hand tremors, my insomnia getting worse and rapid weight loss.
By September, none of these symptoms had improved and while I was actively trying to gain weight, I had lost a total of 11 pounds between late May and early September. This meant that I was now 11 pounds lighter than I was when I got pregnant with Teagan. At 5’7” I considered 130lbs to still be a little too skinny prior to getting pregnant but I could never put on weight.
This whole time I thought I had an untreated ear infection so I finally decided to go to the doctor. My ears looked fine and the doctor said it was probably allergies. I explained that I have lived here my entire life and never had allergies. She dismissed my claim and said they could refer me to an ENT. The physician’s assistant came back in and I tried to explain again that I’ve never had allergies and thankfully he was on my side. He said that he was thinking about it while getting my referral and said that a lot of my symptoms could be directly connected to my thyroid. He said since I had been fasting that he wanted to get a few vials of blood and get some tests run.
The idea of it being my thyroid wasn’t a total surprise to me as I have dealt with an overactive thyroid in the past, just not to the point where I was losing weight and developing a variety of symptoms. Three and a half weeks went by and I heard nothing so I assumed no news was good news but I was feeling annoyed because I was still having the same issues. While I started using essential oils during this period and I found they were giving me some relief and aiding in my overall wellness, my symptoms were still there in some form or another.
October came along and I finally got a call that they got all my tests results back and needed me to come in that week to discuss them further. I tried to not freak out but having to go in to discuss test results didn’t seem like it was going to be ending with a positive outcome but I also just assumed they were going to say I had hyperthyroidism. By this point, I had dropped down to 116lbs, which was a total of 14 lbs. lost in 3 months with zero lifestyle change.
The doctor and physician’s assistant came in and told me I had an autoimmune disease called Grave’s Disease. Honestly, after I heard autoimmune I feel like I completely blacked out. Had I known that’s how serious it was going to be I would have had Cary come with me to listen. Grave’s disease is an immune system disorder that results in the overproduction of thyroid hormones.
This disease was the cause of my hyperthyroidism. So, in short, my immune system is tricking itself into creating anti-bodies that are attacking my own body and healthy tissue. Without treatment, it will eventually effect your heart and can be fatal. I am still learning what exactly I am dealing with.
Due to my osteopenia being diagnosed years ago, they believed that I’ve likely had this for years and it’s never been diagnosed as we are all guilty of having an explanation for every symptom and we easily brush them off or treat them with a medication while never finding the cause. With weaning and my hormones changing again, they believe I had a severe flare up.
The PA first tested my thyroid hormone levels which indicted it was indeed my thyroid, he decided to go a step further and test my antibody level which is what gave them a conclusive diagnosis for Graves. While this completely sucks, I am so grateful for that PA that advocated for me and continued to push for a thorough diagnosis.
My main question was where do we go from here? They gave me a rundown of all treatment plans. The first was anti-thyroid medication which basically meant it would help my symptoms until I was off of it and then they would return. That immediately was not an option for me. I don’t want to be on medication for the rest of my life.
The second option was radioactive iodine therapy. The goal of this treatment is to destroy some of the thyroid tissue in order to lower the amount of hormones my thyroid is producing but the hope is to leave enough to function as normal. The main concern with this treatment is that it will likely result in hypothyroidism. So, I trade one for the other? No thank you.
The last option is surgery to have my thyroid removed. This seemed really extreme while also leaving me with hypothyroidism. I just couldn’t justify a surgery given I had made no other attempts to heal.
I explained that I wasn’t really comfortable with any option and asked about a more holistic approach. They explained that while it wasn’t the most conventional treatment method, they have had some success with it. What it would require is me going to a very strict diet. Essentially the whole 30 diet. No dairy, no added sugar, no processed foods, no legumes, no alcohol, no grains, and also no caffeine. I also need to add drinking bone broth into my diet. This was really difficult to hear because the last time we did the whole 30 diet it was really the whole 17. I completely failed.
They also said I needed to get into essential oils as there have been studies indicating that frankincense and myrrh are great in aiding in thyroid wellness. I am supposed to rub this on my thyroid area twice a day. They told me I should use Young Living as those are the ones they can say are the purest.
I almost wanted to cry because when I finally decided to sign up for Young Living a month ago I felt like it was God telling me to. It was a very strong feeling that I got but couldn’t explain and when I heard them tell me that, it felt as though God was showing me why he gave me that feeling. So that when the time came, I had part of my treatment plan right there in my toolkit already. The full story on my first month with essential oils will come with another post.
I will be on this treatment plan for 45 days and will have to go in for more blood testing to ensure my hormones are moving in the right direction. If they aren’t seeing even a little progress then we will discuss other options and begin meeting with an endocrinologist.
I strongly believe in the power of food. I believe that I can truly heal myself from the inside out with a strict diet and supplements. While I feel completely weak going into it because I love, pizza, cereal, and coffee…I also feel motivated because I love my family and this beautiful life so much more.
To be frank, I also feel really angry. This doesn’t run in my family. I have lived a pretty healthy life. Yes, I indulged but overall, I eat really healthy. Or so I thought. It just makes me think twice about what I am consuming and using in my home. Just because I’m eating chicken breast doesn’t mean it’s not packed with hormones. Just because I’m eating fruits and vegetables doesn’t mean they weren’t sprayed with pesticides that are now making their way into every cell in my body. Just because I’m not eating a candle or dryer sheets, doesn’t mean they aren’t putting toxins into the air I breathe and therefore every cell in my body.
As a society, we can do so much better. I am completely convinced now that everything we eat and everything we use in our home matters. Based on my family history and how I have treated my body over the years, I shouldn’t be left with an autoimmune disease I can just treat/manage versus cure.
This entire thing has left me feeling devastated because it requires a complete lifestyle change but it also leaves me feeling incredibly motivated to do better for my body. To eat better, clean with better products, throw out all my candles and dryer sheets, work out more, drink more water and strive for a better life.
I started this blog with the promise to myself that I would always share truthfully and authentically because you never know who else you can help or may be struggling with something similar. While I haven’t wanted to share until I knew what was going on, I feel compelled to share now because no symptom is too small. If your instincts tell you something isn’t right, listen to them. If a doctor brushes off your symptoms, find a new doctor; be an advocate for yourself and for your health.
Has anyone else every suffered with Grave’s Disease? What treatment plan worked for you? Have you been able to treat it holistically?